SPRUCE GROVE, AB (March 19, 2021) – Michael Hodge scored at 18:47 of the second period to propel the Fort McMurray Oil Barons to a 6-2 win over the Spruce Grove Saints on Friday night. With the win, the Oil Barons now lead the Saints 2-1 in their eight-game AJHL Return to Play series.
The Oil Barons opened the scoring at 17:34 of the first period when Tyler Wallace followed up on a Nickolas de Beurs rebound to score his second goal of the 2020-21 AJHL season. Wallace’s goal came after several strong shifts by the Oil Barons to start the game, which saw them hem the Saints in their own zone.
The lead would be short lived as the AJHL’s Rookie of the Week Jayden Davis scored his third goal against the Oil Barons in as many games to tie the game up 20 seconds later.
In total, the Oil Barons outshot the Saints 22-11 in the 1st period, despite the teams heading to their respective dressing rooms tied at 1.
Taige Harding would open the scoring in the 2nd period after he found a loose puck in front of the Saints goal on the powerplay to make it 2-1. Harding’s goal would come at 6:36 of the period and would also mark the second consecutive game in which he found the scoresheet for the Oil Barons.
The Saints would once again tie the game when Caden Cabana beat Gabe Gratton from the high slot at 8:57.
However, the Oil Barons regained the lead when Hunter Lamb forced a turnover behind the Saints net and found an open Michael Hodge who tucked the puck underneath the crossbar from in tight to make it 3-2.
The duo of Lamb and Hodge continues to produce offensively for the Oil Barons. In three games against the Saints under the Return to Play format, Lamb and Hodge have combined for 12 points.
Hodge’s goal would stand as the game winner and the ignite the Oil Barons offensively in the third period. At 5:25, Ryder Matter forced a turnover behind the Saints net to make it 4-2. For Matter, it was the second consecutive game in which the AJHL rookie from Leduc, AB has found the back of the net.
The goals would continue to come for the Oil Barons in the period. Aidan Moore scored his first AJHL goal at 6:55 to make it 5-2, while Fort McMurrayite Jesse Burchart banged home a loose puck at 17:16 to make it 6-2. In total, the Oil Barons outshot the Saints 45-25.
With the win, goaltender and Fort McMurrayite Gabe Gratton earned his first AJHL win in just in his first start.
Both teams will continue their series tomorrow night in Spruce Grove. You can catch the pregame show on Country 93.3 starting at 6:45 p.m. or tune into HockeyTV for puck drop at 7 p.m.